BENGALURU: In the first baby step of the giant leap of Indians’ voyage into space, the selection and training of crew members will commence soon.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) and the Indian Air Force (IAF) will sign an agreement shortly on the process of selection and training of these crew members for Gaganyaan, the country’s first human space flight programme.
“It (agreement) could happen next week, and then the course of selection and training will begin. In about a year-and-a-half or two years, six crew members will be selected from about 100 prospective astronaut candidates. Those six members, of whom three will make it to the first flight and the remaining three will be on standby, will be the toppers in a three-phase selection and training programme. Of course, we want a woman to be part of the first crew but it depends on the procedures of selection and training,” Dr K. Sivan, chairman, Isro, told this newspaper.
He said those who make the final cut would join the space agency as its staff in order to get familiar with the first mission to space, the experiments to be carried out during the seven-day outing in space, and get hands-on experience of technologies involved in Gaganyaan.
The training schedule (two phases) would be worked out by the IAF’s Institute of Aerospace Medicine (IAM) in Bengaluru while the last phase would be conducted in collaboration with Russian or French space agencies.
“Three of our people (Isro) have visited aerospace medicine facilities in France but we have not signed any agreement with CNES (French space agency) as other countries like Russia have also offered to help us during the last phase of training,” he added.
Expressing confidence that Isro would be able to accomplish the mission in December 2021, six months ahead of the date announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Dr Sivan said a number of reviews, including one at the national level by renowned experts, the IAF, academia and DRDO labs, have been completed on the crew module and the launch vehicle.